Dear Innsbrook Nature Enthusiasts,
The Spring season is exploding all around us at Innsbrook, and so is our news on nature events, eagle nests, fox dens, mushrooming, hummingbirds, guided hikes, getting kids out into nature, and more. For this edition, we group content by Nature Features and Nature Shorts. If you enjoy these topics, please feel free to email this link https://ibknature.com/newsletters/spring-2016-newsletter/ to your Innsbrook friends and neighbors who may not be on our newsletter list but who can sign-up by providing their email address in the right-hand side field of any page, including this one.
Announcing the Innsbrook Nature Chautauqua
Mark your calendar for Sunday afternoon, June 5, at 1 pm for the Innsbrook Nature Chautauqua to be held at the Aspen Conference Center in the Sycamore Room. Chautauquas (pronounced shuh-tah-kwahs) are lifelong-learning and community-building events appearing all across the country at other rural scenic resorts similar to Innsbrook. They have a rich history dating back to the early 20th century of bringing educational opportunities and cultural enrichment to small towns and rural communities. President Theodore Roosevelt, quite the outdoorsman himself, once said that Chautauquas “were the most American thing in America.” There’s even a Chautauqua Trail (http://www.chautauquatrail.com/) that stretches from Maine to Colorado in which we dream about planting Innsbrook as a stop along the way.
While the programming theme and length of modern-day Chautauquas varies a great deal, most share the common goal of offering programs that nourish the body, mind, and spirit. Historically, the subjects explored in lectures, workshops, performances, and retreats also vary, but often include the arts, science, history, culture, civics, faith, and of course nature. After visiting the venerable Chautauqua Institute (http://ciweb.org/) last year I have learned to think of them as summer camps for adults where curiosity and lifelong learning keep you forever young.
Our concept for the Innsbrook Nature Chautauqua is much more modest by offering bite-sized events on living, learning, and playing in Nature. On June 5 the program will include local author and Webster-Kirkwood Times editor Don Corrigan who will speak about the natural environment and wonders of Missouri he has written about in his numerous books. Next will be an ornithologist from the World Bird Sanctuary who will help us to recognize all the different raptors that call Innsbrook home, including Bald Eagles, and how we can maintain a healthy habitat for these birds. Our final guest speaker will be a certified paddle sports instructor from the Alpine Shop who will provide an introduction to kayaking just in time for summer fun in the water.
We will post more program news and speaker information at https://ibknature.com/nature-chautauqua/ as the time gets closer. There will be no cost to attend this property owner organized event – we hope to find a sponsor to cover our minimal expenses – so join us for the start of what could become an annual tradition just like Nature Festivals were some years ago at Innsbrook. To help us plan please let us know if you are likely to attend by responding to this simple anonymous poll. (insert poll)
Rapture the Raptors
Missouri forests, fields, and lakes offer a rich ecosystem for raptors. As evidence, there are over 30 different species of raptors in North America with more than half of them, 19, common to Missouri. Birds of prey that we see here include eagles, falcons, osprey, vultures, and many types of hawks. What makes a raptor a raptor? Here are some common traits from an article in the Missouri Conservationist: strong feet and talons for holding onto prey, a large curved beak for tearing flesh, sharp vision that is up to 8 times better than humans, harsh high-pitched screams, cries or whistles, and of course great flying skills. Over the past winter we enjoyed watching pairs of hawks dancing above Lake Konstanz just as much as we do our beloved Redbirds feeding at our birdfeeder. Imagine our shock that while watching our feeder just a few feet from the window a Cooper’s Hawk swooped in and snatched a startled cardinal. As feathers flew in the scuffle, we resigned ourselves to knowing that this is Nature too, even though we felt remorse for our placement of the feeder where this could occur.
Bald Eagles Nesting For Second Year – an update from Allison Volk
The Innsbrook Eagles, as we have come to affectionately call them, have been lying around for weeks. Why? Because they have decided after successfully raising two healthy chicks last summer they are ready to give it another go! They were first noticed to be sitting in their nest full time at the end of January. This puts them ahead of last year’s nesting by more than a month. They must have thought that Phil did not see his shadow and winter would be short this year, and they were right.
Please respect the eagles’ habitat and do not put out any type of food for the adults or juveniles to find. The parents have a system for teaching their young and interference from us will not help the young eagles to survive their first years of life. It is also a great time to double check that you or your exterminator has not placed “In and Out” type bait stations on your property. This type of rodent control is deadly to the food chain that eats rodents for survival. Remember the food chain can also include your pets as well as the foxes, owls and these eagles.
Innsbrook has over 8,000 acres and tracking them here would be great fun. We would love to know what has become of the young eagles. If you notice a juvenile flying around Innsbrook – remember they keep their brown heads thru age 3 or 4 – please send us a note as a comment to our blog and we will create a map for our summer newsletter.
You can learn more about preserving the habitat for eagles and other raptors from our World Bird Sanctuary speaker on June 5. Until then visit this MDC Field Guide entry at http://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/bald-eagle . To see another happy eagle family check out this video from the National Arboretum at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/19/science/bald-eaglet-hatches-arboretum-webcam.html?_r=0 .
Favorite Forest Fauna: The Red Fox
It’s time to start watching for baby Red Foxes. Kits, as the babies are called, are typically born in late March or April. A litter can contain 4-7 kits. They start leaving the den at about 10 weeks old as their parents start teaching them to hunt. If you see a fox den please let it be but send a note to us so we can begin to track our local population. Foxes are mostly nocturnal, but will often be out at dawn and dusk. Here’s a great candid photo taken recently of mom with two kits exploring Innsbrook.
Great Backyard Bird Count Results
There were numerous reports filed from Innsbrook this past February for the annual GBBC. Over 40 different bird species were recorded this year! Kudos go to Cindy Bowers with the most sightings. Check out the impressive list of species seen across Innsbrook at http://ebird.org/ebird/gbbc/subnational2/US-MO-219?yr=cur&m=&rank=mrec.
Every Day is Earth Day at Innsbrook
What better way to celebrate Earth Day than experiencing nature every day at Innsbrook. For those who can’t make it to your vacation chalet or second home for this year’s official Earth Day on April 22, then consider attending the annual St. Louis Earth Day Festival on Sunday, April 24, at Forest Park with more info at http://www.stlouisearthday.org/events/festival/.
Guided Nature Hikes Return
Thanks to the Innsbrook POA and staffer Lindsay Prost in particular, guided nature hikes will return for a second year. Mark your calendar for expertly narrated hikes on May 14, June 25, July 17, and Aug. 6. Local Master Naturalists Leslie Limberg and Allison Volk will lead groups around four different nature trails over the season. Whether you have walked our trails many times before or never at all, you will be certain to see, hear, and learn things unexpected.
We are still seeking volunteers to select one of the seven Innsbrook trails to serve as an informal trail steward. The responsibilities are very minimal and fun: hike the trail once a season, clean up any litter even though there rarely is any, and photo special finds of flora and fauna. Visit http://www.innsbrook-resort.com/recreation/nature-trails/ to view all the trails, then send an email to email@example.com with your selection.
Getting Kids Out Into Nature
A recent NPR program on kids in nature reminded us of the many health benefits of being outdoors. One of the guest authors interviewed was Richard Louv who wrote “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder” and more recently “Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life.” This worthwhile program can be heard at https://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2016-04-06/richard-louv-on-getting-outdoors. It got us thinking about a webpage or events just for kids. Let us know if you have ideas or time to contribute.
Nature Photo Gallery
Be sure to check out all the stunning wildflower photographs on the new Nature Gallery pages at https://ibknature.com/gallery/ that have been curated by Cindy Bower with contributions from others including Don Sessions. Recent studies have found that just looking at pictures of the great outdoors triggers some of the same physiologically calming responses in the brain as actually being outdoors. And what’s even better, the positive aftereffects linger on after we return to the more stressful real world.
Early Spring for Bluebirds?
The first bluebird nests were reported the third week of March this year, about the same time as last year even though we had a mild winter. Here’s a photo of a nest full of eggs taken by Kath Kremer during her round of checking on houses along the Lake Konstanz trail. We are working to get a birdhouse cam before the season is over, and if anyone has experience with such please let us know.
Migration of the Hummingbirds
Hummingbird fans get your feeders ready! Check out this map of the Spring migration of Hummingbirds moving northward at http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html. They will be here soon! Did you know that hummingbirds, like most birds, don’t have a good sense of smell. They are attracted to showy plants full of nectar, not necessarily fragrant ones. Keep this in mind when planning your hummingbird garden.
Morel Mushroom Season is Here
We’re not going to tell you where our secret morel mushroom patch is, but here are some tips for finding your own. They show between late March and May at the forest edges. Look for ash, elm and oak trees as morels grow under them. They’ll appear first on south-facing slopes as the ground warms. You’ll find them deeper in the woods and on north-facing slopes as it gets warmer. Be sure to soak your morels in water for a couple of hours to clean them and wash out any bugs. For more info on mushrooming visit http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/outdoor-recreation/mushrooming/basic-mushrooming. Send us a note if you would like to participate or organize a field trip.
Bush Honeysuckle Reminder
As the recent Village Views Newsletter reminds us, spring is the best time to inspect your property for invasive bush honeysuckle as it flowers earlier than many other native plants. Methods of control and identification can be found at the Missouri Dept of Conservation’s website. Small stems are easy to pull up by hand and dispose of but bigger stands may require a spade. Check out the “Curse of the Bush Honeysuckle” where you can see photos to identify this unwelcomed guest, as well as many plants you won’t want to accidentally pull up.
Closing Nature Quote
Our nature prose for this edition is “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” also known as “Daffodils” from the poet of Nature William Wordsworth, and is in tribute of the many wild daffodils seen all around Innsbrook this Spring. (This is the first version published in 1804.)
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee: —
A poet could not but be gay
In such a laughing company:
I gazed — and gazed — but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.